Of mixed South African and German parentage, Elkan trained as a photographer in Berlin in the 1930s and worked as a photographer in Germany and South Africa. While based in London, she received funding from the British campaign in support of the International Brigades to go to Spain to photograph the activities of the Brigades. She travelled by ambulance to Alabacete in December 1936 where she photographed German, French and British recruits at the training base. Other images cover international journalists, a Valencia hospital, blood transfusions and air-raid casualties in Madrid. Her images also included shots of Mikhail Koltsov of Pravda, Claud Cockburn of the Daily Worker and of the physician Norman Bethune.
- Vera Elkan's Spanish series has been exhibited at the Imperial War Museum and at the Tate Gallery.
- Hilary Roberts, "Vera Elkan", Luminous Lint. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
- Olmeda, Fernando (2007). Gerda Taro, Fotógrafa de Guerra: El Periodismo Como Testigo de la Historia. DEBATE. pp. 344–. ISBN 978-84-8306-702-4. Retrieved 14 March 2013.